In regards to Our Lady's nature: does our EOTC Church teach the same doctrine as all other non-Chalcedonian Churches regarding her being born without original sin?
In the book Welcome to the Armenian Church, published by the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church in America in 2004, it states that the teaching that the Virgin Mary "is considered to have been conceived immaculately without sin" is not a teaching of the Armenian Church. (page 39)
Dear Sister in Christ, Salpy:
There are a lot of contradictory statements made by those who just want to paint with broad strokes and sweeping generalizations. I offer the following quotes from Armenian Orthodox sources to serve as a balance to the one above. I myself did a study on this question which discusses the similarities and differences between Catholics and Orthodox and tries to get at the real difference between us.
In the book "The Mother of God," by the Armenian Apostolic Vartabed Vatche Iknadiossian, he states, "the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, officially proclaimed by the Roman Catholic Church in 1854, was not officially proclaimed by our Church. Nevertheless we celebrate it as a very great feast, on 9th December (instead of 8th). During the feast we find the following hymns:
"Thou art the Flower which cannot wither,
Thy birth was free from the condemnation of original sin,
Immaculate, holy Virgin, We glorify thee!"
"Living Eden. Tree of immortal life
guarded on every way by the flashing sword."
"Thanks to thy stainless and spotless purity, Thou art good!
Thanks to thine immaculate holiness thou art a Tutelary Advocate!"
-composed by St. Gregory of Narek, AD 951-1003
When asked about the Roman Catholic devotion: the Rosary, Fr. Iknadiossian gave this prayer of St. Gregory of Narek as an Armenian example of Marian devotion:
"Help me with thy winged prayers,
O thou who art proclaimed Mother of the living,
So that when I leave this earthly valley
I may without suffering walk towards thy dwelling of life which was
prepared for us.
So that the end of my life be lightened,
although t’was enburdened with iniquity.
Transform for me my day of anguish into a joyous feast.
O Thou who curest Eve’s pains!
With thy tears help me, for I am in distress,
O Thou, blessed amongst women.
Bend the knee to secure my reconciliation,
O Thou Mother of God."
(Excerpts from "The Mother of God, p.51-54)
Even in our "Book of Hours of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church" it speaks of St. Mary’s Conception in relative terms in the Matins service on the day of the weak the Eastern Churches set aside to honor the Theotokos (Wednesday):
"Of the virgin of old, Mother Eve,
through whom old Adam became a debtor,
the grievous curse was lifted
by thine holy birth, O virgin Mary;
pray to thine only-begotten
to forgive the sins of their children;
sing praises to the fruit of the Virgin,
in whom ye were blessed, O generations of the earth-born."
Lastly in the forward of the above mentioned book the forward by Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, Armenian Partiarch of Jerusalem, states: "The name of Mary, the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception who bore the Christ, will be honoured throughout eternity, as the quintessence of purity, innocence, sacrifice and devotion. No other human being has ever received, or been worthy of such vereration as this humble woman, so full of grace, from Galilee." (ibid. p. 7).
So I think this is important information that our people need to know. Otherwise we run the risk of bearing false witness against our Latin brethren and perhaps even against our own Fathers.
If interested in my study see: The Conception of the Holy Virgin Mariam, Mother of Godhttp://www.looys.net/tradition.html
Trusting in Christ's 1st and 2nd Advent,
Rev. Sub-Deacon Lazarus W. Der-Ghazarian,
Holy Apostolic Orthodox Church of Armenia, Eastern Diocese USA
The Armenian Orthodox Evangelization Mission: www.looys.net